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Columnists > Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker
Jenny is an American from Indiana living abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. An ER nurse, she spends her spare time with her husband and infant son and enjoys photography, travel and writing about her experiences as an expat. You can read more of her thoughts and opinions at

Jennifer Tucker

Taking The Good With The Bad In New Zealand

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday February 05, 2013 (00:52:10)   (2896 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
One of the things that I thought about a lot when we moved to New Zealand back in May 2010 was, “Will I stand out as an American?”

The answer is yes, of course. My accent instantly makes me stand out as being from North America, though most people can’t tell for certain if I’m Canadian or a Yank. But in most other ways, I tend to blend in here. Even my accent seems to fade away when I converse with Kiwis that I’ve known for a long time. But every now and then, I say or do something that reminds others – and me – of just how foreign I am. Thankfully the number of times that I do or say something that might be considered a cultural no-no has dropped the longer that we’ve lived here. The things that I notice now are when newly arrived expats say or do something that’s a bit culturally “off”. Inwardly I cringe, mainly because I recognize those words and behaviour as things that I used to do myself.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

5 Suggestions For A New Year In A New Country

Posted by: Carole on Friday January 04, 2013 (03:24:07)   (2124 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
Happy New Year! Living in New Zealand meant that I got to see 2013 before most of you, and it certainly started off on a good foot in my part of the world.

I’ll be honest, making and keeping New Year’s resolutions has not always been one of my favourite things. However, moving to a different country forced me to set some goals for myself if I ever wanted to move beyond the expat status to where I could think and feel like a local. Here are 5 of my suggestions for starting out a new year in a new country.

#1. Come up with a budget and stick to it!

It seems like everyone (except perhaps the super-rich) struggles with sticking to a budget. Expats aren’t exempt.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

How Travel Can Change The Expat Experience

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday December 04, 2012 (23:49:12)   (2400 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
We’re back in New Zealand after having spent a wonderful 2 months in the United Kingdom. We travelled there for my husband, as he needed to do some work at one of the universities, and it worked out that our son and I were able to accompany him. It was a great time and we were glad to have had such a fun opportunity to experience life in yet another country and culture.

Coming back to New Zealand has meant a few minor adjustments. Aside from the obvious ones of getting over jet lag and remembering that things are not paid for in pounds, but in dollars, there’s the process of actually “settling”. Before leaving we made the decision to give up our apartment and either put everything into storage or sell it. We will be moving back to the USA in July 2013, so we knew that we needed to sell some things, anyway, and this was a good time to do it. We’re living in short-term accommodations now that we’re back, and shortly we will be heading down to the South Island for a 9 day holiday, after which we’ll be flying back to Auckland to do a 3 month house-sit.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

From New Zealand To England

Posted by: Carole on Sunday November 04, 2012 (20:21:40)   (2553 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
We’ve been in the UK for 4 weeks now. No, we haven’t moved from New Zealand. At least, not entirely and not yet. We’re in England for 2 months while my husband does some work here. All of our things in New Zealand have either been sold, put in temporary storage, or put in long-term storage in advance of shipping them to the United States when we actually do move from New Zealand in July 2013.

The UK has been nice. We’ve made a trip to Scotland and been visited by relatives, who accompanied us to Stonehenge and to London. Another family member will be visiting soon. England is so much closer to the USA than New Zealand and it’s much easier for them to see us here. Just a “short” flight!

There are some things about England that make me miss New Zealand. First of all, there’s the weather.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

Does Time Pass More Quickly In New Zealand?

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 05, 2012 (00:34:29)   (1895 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
I was recently asked whether or not I thought time passed more quickly in New Zealand than anywhere else.

The question threw me. No one has ever asked me that before. My answer was no, but also yes, and then “it depends”.

When we moved here initially, I thought that time crawled by. Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t the willing expat that so many others seem to be. I was supportive, but not thrilled at the thought of leaving home and family. I was excited and intrigued by the possibility of having this once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I was still operating under this idea of “after 2 years, if we don’t like it, we’ll move back to the States”. I did monthly evaluations of what life here was like. Was I liking it? Was I not? I knew that I needed to give myself at least a year to settle in, but I didn’t really step back and allow myself to just live for a year without constantly analysing.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

What To Bring To New Zealand

Posted by: Carole on Sunday September 02, 2012 (02:07:47)   (3557 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
Every now and again I get emails or Facebook messages or blog comments with this type of question: “If you were moving to New Zealand all over again, what would you say that you have to bring with you from the States?”

When we first moved here, I had a boatload of suggestions, things that I thought really needed to be stocked up on because you couldn’t find them here, the NZ equivalent/replacement wasn’t as good, or it was just too expensive when compared with shopping in the US.

Recently, however, my list has been shrinking. In fact, it’s been hard to think of anything other than a very few items that I would recommend stocking up on and shipping over to New Zealand. I’m not exactly certain why that is, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that it boils down to one simple thing: I’m forgetting what everyday life in the States was like.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

How Moving to New Zealand Made Me a Better Cook

Posted by: Carole on Sunday August 05, 2012 (14:58:10)   (9983 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
I used to consider myself a fairly good cook back when we lived in the States. I made dinner almost every night, even if it was nothing more than putting something in the crock-pot before heading to work. Nevertheless, moving to New Zealand made me realize that, in fact, I wasn’t a good cook. I was good at following recipes, good at putting a meal together, but most of what I made relied, in some way, shape, or form, on pre-packaged, convenience foods:

Minute rice that was microwavable.

Stir-fry mixes from the freezer.

Low-fat, low-calorie microwavable lunch options.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

Healthcare in New Zealand

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday July 03, 2012 (17:13:16)   (3543 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
There’s been a lot in the news lately regarding the Supreme Court of the United States and their recent ruling on President Obama’s healthcare law. I know that healthcare reforms in the US are fraught with political tension. I’m not going to get into that here. Instead, I’m going to share my experiences working in the US healthcare system, working in the NZ healthcare system, and being a patient in both.

I grew up in the US healthcare system and many of my family members, myself included, work in it. I’m a nurse, and within my immediate family there are 2 other nurses, 2 in nursing school, 3 doctors, and 2 in medical school. We are very much a medical family. I received my nursing education in the US and spent the first couple of years working as a nurse there.

Moving to New Zealand was a change for me, both personally and professionally. I had my opinions about “socialized medicine” and, to be honest, they weren’t good. I didn’t understand how a system like that could work.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

Death, Illness And Injury Overseas

Posted by: Carole on Friday June 08, 2012 (02:10:37)   (3359 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
You may have recently heard about the 3 Boston University students that were killed while in New Zealand. They were part of a caravan on their way to the Tongariro Crossing, an absolutely beautiful walk in the North Island of New Zealand, when their van swerved onto the shoulder, overcorrected, and crashed. In addition to the deaths, there were many students injured, one quite severely. Thankfully, she has just woken up from her coma within the last week and seems to be on the mend.

It was a terrible thing to happen, and it was made worse – in my opinion – by the fact that it occurred on Mother’s Day weekend. I couldn’t bear to think much about what those poor mothers must have felt and thought, getting a call about their child dying so far away and so near the end of the semester, at which point they would have been returning home. One of the students had even gone so far as to send her mother flowers for Mother’s Day in advance, making sure that she got them in time.    more ...

Jennifer Tucker

Changing Seasons In New Zealand

Posted by: Carole on Saturday May 05, 2012 (16:39:52)   (2263 Reads)
Jennifer Tucker
I woke up this morning, made myself a cup of tea (or two!), pulled a sweatshirt from my university days on over my head, and felt very thankful for warm, woolly socks made right here in New Zealand. I had to confirm to my husband that, yes, it is too chilly for Joe, our 10 month old, to wear shorts. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s getting cold over here.

There are still a few mild days and, truth be told, there’s usually a point mid-morning where I take off the sweatshirt for a few hours, open the windows, and bask in the sunshine that my houseplants so eagerly soak up. Even now I’m in short sleeves and bare feet as I write this post. Still, those days are becoming more and more rare, and the fact that it’s getting cold in May is something that I have yet to get used to. To make matters even more confusing, I was serenaded and entertained by a May Day dance going on in the street below just a few minutes ago. May Day. Isn’t that a celebration of Spring? But here we are, celebrating the onset of winter.    more ...

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